For these pairings, I’m going to be using our 2011 fantasy baseball rankings. Notably, the top 20 starters for 2011 fantasy baseball, top 40 starters for 2011, top 60 starters for 2011 and the top 80 starters for 2011. Okay, now that we have our links and shizz done. What is a pitcher pairing? It’s how you plan on putting together a fantasy staff. It’s a plan of action. If you have A pitcher, which B, C and D pitcher goes with him? You should have six starters. The sixth starter is Mike Minor or take whoever you want. I suggest an upside pick. Mike Minor comes to mind. Or Jordan Zimmermann. Jordan Zimmermann also comes to mind. I’m going to assume you’re in a 12 team, 5×5 and some variation of 9 Pitchers league. (NOTE: What you are about to read is massively confusing. If it were found scribbled in a notebook, the FBI would be watching me.) Anyway, here’s some pairings for pitching staffs for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts:
“The best, Jerry. The best!” and “Top starters that I’m wary of.” – These tiers are from Halladay to Sabathia. There’s very little chance I have anyone in either of these tiers. If I do have one, I wouldn’t take another pitcher until the Haren tier of the top 40 starters. Then I’d grab one guy from the tier of Marcum/Daniel Hudson and one guy from the flyer tier of Chacin. Finally, I’d finish my staff off with — that just sounded like a phone sex operator — an out there flyer from the top 80 starter post (a pitcher in the top 80 post that I like, preferably), then I’d grab Minor or Zimmermann. So F-Her, Scherzer, Marcum, Chacin, Vazquez and Zimmermann. That staff will probably have 13’s in every pitching category in a 12 team league.
“I’m going to have one of these guys on my team,” “I would draft one of these guys, but I think others will take them first” and “If I failed to get a pitcher in the Lester tier, I absolutely need one from this tier.” —
These tiers go from Lester to Greinke. With the pitchers from these tiers, you don’t have the same luxury of Halladay’s tier. I’d pair any of the top 20 starters that come between Lester and Greinke with anyone in the Hamels tier, but it’s not mandatory. In other words, if I have Lester, I wouldn’t ignore Hamels (or anyone in his tier) if he fell to me, but I wouldn’t reach either. You’ll be fine taking Lester and moving right into the top 40 starters. So let’s say you start your staff with Lester and Oswalt because he falls to you, you should skip right to Marcum. Again, if someone from Haren’s tier drops, then you can grab him, but you’re loading up too much on pitching at this point. So if you have Lester, Oswalt, Marcum, you jump to Chacin’s tier and grab two pitchers. (Yes, this is like a Choose Your Own Adventure.) So that leaves you with Lester, Oswalt, Marcum, Chacin, Morrow and Mike Minor. Great looking staff, or so says Gosh Johnson, Josh’s porn star brother.
Now, if you draft someone from Lester’s tier but don’t take another starter until the top 40 starters post, that works too. You take Kershaw then two guys from Haren’s tier, so Kershaw, Scherzer and Billingsley. If that fails to happen, you take Kershaw, a guy from Haren’s tier and two guys from Marcum’s tier, so Kershaw, Cain, Marcum and Daniel Hudson. If that doesn’t happen, you take Kershaw, one guy from Haren’s tier, one guy from Marcum’s tier and two guys from Chacin’s tier. So Kershaw, Cain, Marcum, Chacin and Morrow. Now if you have the first scenario — Kershaw, Scherzer and Billingsley — you then take two pitchers in Chacin’s tier. If you have the 2nd scenario — Kershaw, Cain, Marcum and Daniel Hudson — you take one pitcher from Chacin’s tier. Oh, and remember, every team needs a sixth starter — Mike Minor or Jordan Zimmermann.
“Kinda boring, but reliable number three starters.” and “Not bad options, but I see no upside.” — This tier goes from Lilly to Dempster in the top 40 starters and Danks to Shields in the top 60 starters post. These are number three and four starters if — and this “if” has its own solar system — you somehow Mr. Bungle getting a number two starter or you feel like your staff is wonky as all get-out. For instance, you have Kershaw then you go on an insane hitting run and don’t grab another pitcher until Jorge de la Rosa. That means you’ve skipped the entire top 40 starters post. At that point, I’d grab someone from Lilly’s tier. Or if you’ve grabbed Hamels, Cain and Marcum and start worrying that your team has one guy who gives up homers, another who has a FIP’ing problem and another guy who had a poor April last year and you just want some stability, then you grab someone in Danks’ tier.
WHIP Issues – For every pitcher who is projected over a 1.25 WHIP, take one below. The quicker you do this, the better off you’ll be. For instance, if you take Gio Gonzalez, who I have projected for a 1.28, you need to pair him with someone I have projected for below a 1.25. Don’t pair Gio with Wandy. Don’t pair Gio with Dempster. Pair Gio with Kuroda. Pair him with Hanson. Pair him with Cain. Remember, the further you get into the rankings, the harder it becomes to find lower WHIPs. In the top 60 starters, there’s only three starters below a 1.25 WHIP. There’s four pitchers in the top 80 and two of them are Peavy and Johan and who knows when they’re pitching. The other two are Hellickson and Travis Wood, who I like but they’re not completely trustworthy. Sidenote: WHIP can be helped by closers and MRs… Or hurt by them.
Yovani Gallardo – I love Gallardo; I have his projected WHIP down for 1.24. That’s optimistic because I am high on him this year. All meanings of the word “high” work for that last sentence. But I know I’m being optimistic so I would try to balance his WHIP out with another pitcher. Say, Kuroda or Lilly. Say, Tim Hudson or Matt Cain.
K ISSUES – For drafters who follow my lead, this shouldn’t be as much of an issue. You’re shooting for around 150/starter.
Overall Pitching Issues – Just about everyone, including yours truly, drops at least one of their starters by May 1st. Obviously, you want the best team coming out the draft, but it’s a marathon not a sprint. Starters always come out of nowhere on waivers to become productive. For further reading on that subject, see Mat Latos’ 2010.